MARIE CURIE IRISH CUP FINAL: CLIFTONVILLE V GLENTORAN (2.30PM KICK OFF)

Reds manager Tommy Breslin is looking for his team to do the treble on Saturday

Reds manager Tommy Breslin is looking for his team to do the treble on Saturday

ALL roads lead to Windsor Park on Saturday as league champions Cliftonville taken on Glentoran in the Marie Curie Irish Cup Final.

The Reds will be looking to do the treble after already winning the IRN-BRU League Cup against Crusaders.

Thousands of fans will descend on south Belfast for the showpiece game in Irish football’s calendar.

Police are already warning motorists to expect delays in the area because of traffic congestion before and after the game.

Fans have been warned not to misbehave or they face prosecution under the new Justice Act (NI) 2011.

Police are on alert over possible protests after the IFA said the national anthem would not be played at the game.

Cliftonville will be without James Knowles.

Knowles was initially ruled out of the game because his contract with the Reds had expired.

The club then held talks with Uefa, Fifa and the Irish FA in an attempt to make Knowles eligible for the decider.

However, these efforts finally proved unsuccessful on Friday evening and the Reds have accepted that he will not be available for the showpiece game.

Knowles, a former Northern Ireland Under-21 international, has played a major part in the north Belfast club’s success this season and was voted Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Player of the Month for November.

On receiving confirmation he has been ruled out of the showpiece decider, Knowles tweeted: “officially can’t be involved tomorrow. Gutting, but I’ll be there to support the lads #redarmy.”

The north Belfast side are hoping to complete a historic domestic treble having already won the Premiership title and the League Cup this season.

“It’s been a memorable season and we’ll be trying our hardest to extend it by one more game,” said Reds manager Tommy Breslin.

“With cup finals, it’s all about which team turns up on the day,” added the Cliftonville boss, who hopes to lead his side to their first Irish Cup success since 1979.

The Glens have received a timely boost prior to the final with the news that defender Jason Hill has agreed a new contract with the club.

The match will be the last in a Glentoran shirt for long-serving defender Colin Nixon, if he is selected to play a part by manager Eddie Patterson.

“I don’t think we have anything to fear – cup finals are wide open affairs and we are confident we can match Cliftonville and better them on the day,” said Patterson’s assistant Tiernan Lynch.

“Both teams have won one match an we have drawn the other two games we have played this season.

“There has always been a big emphasis on the Irish Cup at Glentoran and there is definitely an extra buzz about the place – it’s time we gave the fans something to be proud of again.

“The players have dealt with the issues off the field well and, if anything, it has brought us closer together.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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